Monday, July 23, 2007

Global warming stings

The Los Angeles Times reports that malaria's been making inroads into Kenyan highlands once free of the disease. A biologist placed much of the blame on global warming, stating, "It's a simple issue of mosquito biology. They are driven by temperature." As a result, 24 million Kenyans, more than half the population, are now at risk to contract the "mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite," which brings on "fever, chills, and flu-like illness." Each year malaria kills as many as half a billion people, most of them children. Experts see the new spread of the disease as further evidence that
"[i]ndustrialized nations, including the United States and China, account for the vast majority of carbon dioxide emissions blamed for warming the planet, but poorer countries, particularly in Africa, are the most vulnerable to its effects...."
For those of you in those industrialized nations: check out our Opinio Juris colleague Roger Alford for the word on your carbon footprint and how to trim it.

1 comment:

Patrick S. O'Donnell said...

Readers might also want to look at a recent Boston Review issue on the subject of global warming, the online version of which is here: http://bostonreview.net/BR32.1/contents.html

As Nicholas Stern writes in his contribution, "Action by individual countries is, however, not enough, and it will prove more costly. Climate change is a global problem, and solutions will require coordinated action by rich and poor countries, based on a shared vision of long-term goals and mutually reinforcing approaches at the national, regional, and international level. With a globally shared vision, policy can then reap the benefits of joint action and global markets for the lower carbon technologies that will be necessary.
[....]
Consider where the greenhouse gases come from: mostly from energy use that is central to economic activity. Electricity and heat generation, transport, industry, and other energy is 61 percent of the story. Land use accounts for a large percentage, too: deforestation is 18 percent and agriculture also is another 14 percent. Furthermore, with economic growth, countries become larger sources of greenhouse gases. Thus, the big emitters now are the United States and Western Europe; China is also quite big. Going forward, the increases for China and India are expected to be substantial. My rough rule of thumb is that rich countries are responsible for 79 percent of the cumulative energy emissions over the last 50 years or so; in a decade or so the emissions from the developing countries will overtake those from rich countries; and in 20 to 25 years, the current developing countries will likely be responsible for 70 percent. (The importance of this is that the developing countries currently don’t have targets under the Kyoto agreement, and there will be a major challenge in bringing them into the whole story of emissions.)"